Amateur Radio is an extensive hobby and a valuable public service resource. There are many forms of communication using radio, from Morse Code to voice to pictures to data (much like the type of data flowing on the Internet). It is different from CB radio, in that you have to test to get a license, and that you get to do so much more than just talk to people near to you. You can talk halfway around the world, send and recieve pictures and video, and send and recieve email. Some Amateur Radio operators (or Hams) try to see how many different countries they can make contactsin. Others try to make as many different contacts as possible in a certain time period. Still others may chat with friends and make new friends on the air. In times of disaster or other public need, Hams help move messages to support relief efforts and to let family and friends know that people in the affected areas are safe.
In 1991, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) revised some of the requirements for an amateur license. It is now possible to get an Amateur license without taking a Morse Code exam! This license, called a Technician license, allows voice, data, and video communications on all Amateur frequencies above 50 Megahertz (MHz). The Technician license has now become the most popular license in Amateur Radio, because it only requires passing two written exam elements. Study guides are available at electronic and radio shops such as Radio Shack. Exams are given at various locations across the country year-round. Exam opportunities can be found by asking at Radio Shack and other electronics and radio stores, or by contacting the American Radio Relay League.
In early 2000, the FCC restructured the Amateur licensing structure. After April 15, 2000, no new Novice or Advanced class licenses would be issued. The 13 and 20 wpm code exams were eliminated, and the 5 wpm code test became the code test portion of the General and Amateur Extra -class licenses.
I have been a Ham since 1992. I started with a Technician license, then passed a Morse Code exam. After passing additional written elements, I now hold an Amateur Extra license, the highest level of qualification for the Amateur Service. Two of my favorite on-air activities are the GERATOL Net and the OMISS Net.If you would like more information on Amateur radio, check out some of these links, or email me.
Transmitter Hunting Sites
Joe Moell's Homing In Home Page
Radio Direction Finding and Transmitter Hunting Info from KØOV
Radio and Equipment Manufacturers
Baycom Packet Software and Hardware
The Kantronics Home Page
Clubs and Organizations
Southwest Iowa Amateur Radio Club - KØSWI
Aksarben Amateur Radio Club - KØUSA
The American Radio Relay League
Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR)
Callsign Info and Search Tools
QRZ Callsign Server